We’re on-high - in Lisa’s (parent’s) 50th floor penthouse in Manhattan. The sky outside is a cloudless, blinding powder-blue, infinite and reflective as liquid. A TV news helicopter flew by under her window a few minutes ago.
If you don’t feel God-like looking down on the world from her living room, then you’re probably an atheist. Peter was with us and as we stood, looking out on Central Park and NYC from her balcony, he was suitably impressed by it all - from the chopper ride in from New Haven to the opulent digs.
Peter’s a poor (he exists on a meager stipend) doctoral student from Malibu, California. He grew up simply, in a rustic, one floor, three-bedroom cabin that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. He never had a smart-phone or cable TV growing up and only got glacially slow Internet in high school. He says he really lived in the ocean. His most prized possession is his 70s “Bing Bonzer” surfboard that stands, like a priceless, Egyptian relic in his dorm room.
We got a vibe switch when we came inside and 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em up” was absolutely airhorning from the stereo system. “Westside, Westside, Westside,” Lisa and I joined in the chorus and clumsy-danced by reflex. Leeza, Lisa’s younger sister, saw us and ran over for a group hug with Lisa and me.
Lisa’s little sister’s 13 now and boy, is she a new-teenager. Her long, deep-red hair, which now has fluorescent blue ends, is tied-up in a ponytail revealing a buzz-undercut. Leeza had just gotten home from school and had already changed from her school uniform to ripped jean shorts, white socks and a black, 2Pac sweatshirt - which her mom reported she wears every single day. When her mom manages to launder that, Leeza rotates to a Jets hoodie - although she’s never watched a football game in her life.
“I’ve got a worried mind,” I confessed to Peter, later, as we were scrunched together, me half on his lap in an easy chair. He gave me a consoling hug.
Our grades came out earlier today and I got an A- in Physics 3. I crumbed in the face of classical mechanics. Is an A- who I am? Yeah, I guess so, and I’ll have to give myself an “F” for dealing with it. I suppose I’m acknowledgeably challenged.
“Can you appeal it?” Peter asked, he was trying to be supportive, but he knows that’s a ridiculous notion.
“It’s a male professor,” I said, “maybe I could send him a voice message and cry,” I updog.
“That would be HOT,” Peter said, in a dream-like whisper.
“Uhgh,” I groaned, “It’s emotional manipulation, it’s NOT ******,” I explained, creeped out.
I haven’t talked to my parents yet. They’re in Poland and don’t know my life is over.
“You deserve to embrace your awesomeness, stand up for who you are and reject the status quo.” Peter offered, “I dare you,” he finished, unable to keep a straight face. “But seriously, you’ll fix it after the break,” he offers in hope.
“Yeah,” I say, somewhat unconvinced, “I know.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Crucible: a situation that forces someone to change.
updog = when you supply your part of an ongoing joke